In 1926, A Dutch gentleman, Leendert Saarloos, began breeding German Shepherds and on September 15, 1934, his kennel affix “van de Kilstroom” was officially registered in the books of the Dutch Kennel Club in the Netherlands.
Leendert Saarloos wanted to improve the nature of the German Shepherd Dog at that time and wanted to bring the endurance and strength of the wolf together with his German Shepherd Dogs to create a new breed of dog. He wanted to breed healthy and mentally more stable dogs that could be better trained as police dogs.
Leendert’s German Shepherd Dogs were from his neighbour, Chris de Groot, who bred German shepherds in his kennel “von Transrhenum”. Leenderts male GSD “Gerard” was of classic Prussian type. Unfortunately we do not know Gerard’s exact pedigree, for there were no records found. Leendert wanted to mate Gerard to a female wolf. So he obtained a wolf pup from the Rotterdam Zoo (Blijdorp) and called her Fleur. Unfortunately, this first wolf pup, that grew up among his GSD’s, got sick and died. But the zoo gave him another female wolf. In the spring of 1936 he had his first litter of pups from his male GSD and the second female wolf, also called Fleur! *Leendert named all his wolves Fleur*. Sadly all these puppies died within a month. But the next year he had a second litter, and this is the very beginning of the breed known today as the Saarloos Wolfdog.
The first attempt to get the breed recognised was in 1942, Leendert Saarloos went to the Big Winner Show with sixteen of his “Dutch Wolfdogs” (as he called them at that time). The goal of Leendert was to create a very reliable, obedient and brave working dog for the police, but they lacked the will to attack, so they were not very useful as police dogs. In May of 1943 the Dutch KC met to discuss the recognition of the breed, but they decided not to acknowledge it at that time.
After the Second World War, Leendert finds out (by accident) that they made great guiding dogs for the blind. A blind lady in his neighbourhood lost her dog and she asked Leendert to give her a wolfdog. And in 1944 he started the Dutch Wolfdog Owners Club and started his Guide Dog Training Centre.
In 1956 Saarloos gets his last female wolf. This time from the Amsterdam Zoo, for Rotterdam does not have any pups. She is the 6th wolf he owns, but we cannot say with certainty, if all 6 were bred into the breed. This wolf however was certainly bred into the breed. She was the last wolf bred into the breed by Leendert and it was her offspring that were put into the studbook of the Dutch KC when the breed finally became recognised.
In 1963 Leendert Saarloos tries to get the breed recognised again, but this also fails. In 1969 Leendert Saarloos sadly died. He never got to see his breed being recognised, for on July 5th, 1975 the breed did gain official recognition by the Dutch KC (Raad van Beheer), and was called the ‘Saarloos Wolfdog’ in honour of the founder of the breed.
The working ability of the dogs is today lost, believed to be due the increase in the proportion of “wolfblood” present in the breed. The Saarloos Wolfdog does not have a high drive or any guarding tendencies. It is more than happy to have a “sofa day”. So today they are bred solely as a companion dog and generally make good family pets, though it should be noted they are often shy of strangers.
The Saarloos Wolfdog is now also recognised throughout Europe via the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)